Ally Radcliffe is a member of Eagleclaw Football Club's F03/4 Advanced Academy team. In the summer of 2017, Ally attended the Valencia CF Summer Academy hosted by Eagleclaw in Seattle. The camp was led by coaches from Valencia CF's youth academy, including Manuel Ruz who was then head coach of Valencia's U15 boys academy team and is now Head Coach of the U16 boys academy team. Based on her performance during the program, Ally was selected by the Valencia coaches to visit the club in February 2018, tour the facilities and train at the Academy. This is Ally's personal journal of her experience, in her words.
FEBRUARY 7, 2018
We arrived at the airport after many days of packing. As we boarded the flight, my mom told me she upgraded us to "Comfort Plus"! It included free pillows, blankets, headphones, earplugs, sleep masks, toothbrush and a cute little tube of toothpaste and a hot towel. There was also free wine (for my mom.) Going against the sun, it was dark within two hours. We had dinner, snacks and breakfast. I watched the Walking Dead. Mom watched a bunch of shoot-em-up movies. The flight tracker showed that we flew over Canada, Greenland, England, then into Amsterdam. Arriving at 8:30am Amsterdam time.
FEBRUARY 8, 2018
Arrived in Amsterdam, dragging (you know what). Tired. We went through customs. The flight to Valencia leaves at 2:00pm. Time for a nap and a snack. While boarding, some guy dropped a banana. My mom went racing down the jetway, banana in hand, yelling, "Excuse me! You dropped your banana." I died laughing. The guy said, "Thanks for not stealing it."
Two and a half hours later we landed in Valencia. Our coordinator, Bram, picked us up at the airport. The hotel was tiny and you had to put your key in a socket for the lights to work. We took a quick nap and went to a professional European League basketball game, Valencia Basket v. CSKA Moscow. It was a close and awesome game. Valencia squeaked out the win 103-99. Fun fact: Instead of booing, the people whistle.
FEBRUARY 9, 2018
We woke up at 7:30am and met Bram downstairs. We walked through the streets of Valencia looking for an authentic Spanish breakfast. We found a small cafe and that's where we learned that no one speaks English here. I had chocolate caliente (hot chocolate) and toast with melted cheese, bacon and red pepper. After breakfast we struggled to get a taxi. Not so fun fact: Taxi's are only allowed four passengers and we have five, so we had to take two. My mom and I went first with my mom's phone and a little Spanish we made it to the Valencia's youth academy. We met one of the Valencia club officials who gave us a tour of the complex. It was cool and big. We saw the men's U23 team practicing and also the pro women's team. I felt a little bit intimidated but excited to train.
We had the rest of the day free, so we went to the Museum of Arts and Science. It was so much fun. We saw really cool art and learned abut the Spinosaurus! Then we had lunch overlooking the pretty pools of water.
Afterward, we took a taxi to the beach and put our feet into the Mediterranean Sea. It was cold! People drive crazy here. No one stays in their lanes!
Bram and Coach Manu Ruz!
FEBRUARY 10, 2018
We switched hotels. Now we are near the Valencia training facility. We watched several Valencia youth games. Little kids to 20 year olds. They all played fast, had a lot of ball control and knew where to play the ball next. It was like watching pro!
We had lunch, then later we took a bus into town. We did a tour of the Valencia stadium called Mestalla. Next we took a bus to the Valencia FC store. Then we walked around town and had dinner at a Mediterranean "hamburguesa" place.
Ally practicing her press conference technique!
February 11, 2018
Today was the first day of training. So, I started my day off with a good breakfast. Then I put on my uniform and headed out. The training was good, but I had some trouble communicating with the kids from Holland. They all spoke Dutch and I speak English. It was still fun though. After that, we headed back and had lunch. After lunch, we went to the beach club. It was really nice. I had a relaxing time, then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the Valencia game against Levante U.D.
VALENCIA CF (3) V. LEVANTE U.D. (1), FEBRUARY 11, 2018
The game was great! We won 3-1. All the players had great ball control. It was really impressive. I got to meet the players in the tunnel and then and walk out onto the pitch for some photos! The Valencia superstars scored goals, including Mina, Vietto and Parejo. My mom even got video of Parejo's penalty in the 89th minute. [watch below!]
After the game we went home and packed up for tomorrow's flight back to Amsterdam.
We even made it into the newspapers the next morning!
The article reads:
"The youngest ones leapt onto the pitch of the Mestalla [that's the name of the stadium] and posed with the soccer players as usual. Yesterday, they took a memory to keep for life and at the same time saw their team settle into third place in La Liga, which keeps intact their aspirations to play in the Champions League."